Leanne's Cancer Treatment Fund
Leanne is a strong woman, having come from a family that has had ovarian cancer claim women from 3 previous generations, including her Mother. Knowing her family history and knowing already that she potentially possessed the genetic marker precluding cancer, we have always been mindful of her health and always having that dreadful knowledge loom large. Despite this, Leanne and I had been trying to get pregnant for 4 years. After unsuccessfully trying for 2 years, we visited a fertility clinic here in Vancouver. After being initially dismissive, our Doctor there decided to perform a laparoscopy in the summer of 2014, after Leanne telling him that she possessed all of the textbook symptoms of endometriosis. During the procedure, the doctor confirmed her suspicion and found severe endometriosis, with both of her ovaries being tucked upwards and actually attached to the uteran wall with thick, fibrous endometrial tissue. In addition, they discovered some fibroids that were removed during the procedure. She has never been one to over-exaggerate health concerns, and she suffered silently with these symptoms for years with nary a whimper.
Fast forward to March, 2015. Leanne had been having some serious pain in her abdomen, specifically around her ovaries, for a duration far past ovulation, eventually lasting weeks, so she visited our family Doctor to express her concern. Our GP, knowing Leanne’s family history, and also knowing that she has endometriosis, sent her away with a prescription for pain medication, which she promptly discarded. Seriously!! 2 more months of suffering and actively trying to find another GP, she began to notice that her abdomen was becoming extremely swollen and she was now starting to experience pain all over her torso, neck, back. I felt her abdomen, and at one point it was rock hard. She checked herself into emergency the following day at Lion’s Gate Hospital and I joined her later. Later that night, after hours of blood tests, ultrasounds, and CT scan, we were given the worst news of our lives, and our absolute worst fears came true at that moment. They discovered large growths on both of her ovaries, one 12 cm in length, the other 14, in addition to an unknown growth on her liver nodule, plus a large volume of liquid that had accumulated in her abdomen. The Doctors, told us that it appeared she had most of the traditional symptoms of ovarian cancer. The following day, she had a paracentesis performed to remove the liquid from her abdomen, which they later analyzed and discovered that her CT marker count has risen from the 30s, 12 months previous, to over 900, confirming her cancer.
Since then, our lives have taken an abrupt about-face. We have completely altered our diets to an organic and mostly vegetarian one, with Leanne taking it one step further and completely eliminating dairy, gluten, alcohol, caffeine, processed sugars, or anything processed. We have been juicing loads of raw fruit and vegetables, and focusing on making our bodies more alkaline to give Leanne’s body the best chance it can have to heal itself and to help mitigate the side effects of treatment.
We have now visited the BC Cancer Agency, and 2 private Natuoropathic clinics that specialize in cancer care. After some serious consideration, we decided to go with the Integrated Health Clinic in Fort Langley. Her treatment options have been explained at length by both the traditional medical experts, and Naturopathic experts, and, in addition to our own extensive research, feel like we have a firm idea of how we would like to proceed. We’ve decided that she is going to go through with a round of traditional chemotherapy, which was recommended to us, across the board, by all 3 Doctors, in addition to 3 complimentary therapies that improve the efficacy of the chemotherapy and reduce the awful side effects and toxicity. These treatments are; Vitamin C Intravenous injection, Fever therapy and Hyperthermia. Given the severity of Leanne’s infection and it’s aggressive, rapid onset, we need to approach treatment aggressively, which is why we are using these treatments, diet, the use of vitamins and supplements like fermented whey powder and mushroom pills, and dandelion root tea and the addition of cannabis oil to attack the cancer from every direction. Once the tumors have been shrunk down, the next step will be surgery where she will receive a full hysterectomy, after which they want to do another 9 week round of chemo. Our dreams of having a biological child of our own will now never be a reality.
Unfortunately, since Leanne is no longer working, these treatments, our organic diet, supplements, and medicine are incredibly expensive. We have some money squirrelled away that we had hoped to use for a vacation to Bali later this year, which is keeping us afloat for now, but once Leanne begins her full treatment regimen, everything will change rapidly. For each 9 week round of chemotherapy we will need to spend close to $7500 for the full suite of complimentary treatments, not including supplements and medicine, which is something we simply could not sustain.
Thank you all so much for reading this story and bless everyone for their help and support.
Severine & Leanne Erickson
PS. We will be posting pictures soon to keep everyone up-to-date with the progress!!!
Hello everyone, this is Severine here again to share some very unfortunate news, which apparently is just over a year after my last update here.
In November 2016, Leanne noticed that she could feel a lump in her abdomen. We didn’t panic, hoping it was merely scar tissue or perhaps fascia, but she went to get checked out so we could put our fears to rest. She had a blood test and a CT scan of the chest and abdomen. The blood test came back and indicated her tumor markers had shot up since her last test. Additionally, the CT showed a spot in her abdomen at the area she was experiencing discomfort, and they also discovered an unknown object lodged into the ureter in one of her kidneys, which unbeknownst to her, had been severely impeding the function of that kidney. Sadly, it was at this time we realized she was facing a recurrence of cancer.
Leanne began making preparations for treatment immediately but was faced with the challenge of her kidney. She visited a Urologist and had 3 unsuccessful attempts to install a stent in her kidney which delayed her cancer treatment by 1.5 months as each time she had to sit on a waiting list. Gradually, her health deteriorated over this time and we began to notice many of the symptoms she experienced the first time. We were given some slightly good news in that the object found in her kidney is not cancerous, but that also means that she is going to have to have surgery to remove it, and that won’t be for another 6 months.
Her and I had a lovely trip down to Oregon to celebrate her 40th birthday, but there was a dark cloud hanging over our heads the entire trip, knowing that upon our return, she had to face to ugly truth of her worsening condition. Things recently have gotten bad for Leanne. Her pain has reached near-unbearable levels, which have forced her to resort to narcotic pain killers like Hydromorphone and taken away her ability to be mobile or make it through a day at her very demanding job. This has obviously placed a huge strain on both of us and been incredibly emotional. That coupled with the fact that we’re dealing with the recent loss of our beloved kitty, Geroy. The burden on my shoulders currently is immense, as I am responsible for 100% of the work around the house, including meals, training our new puppy, caring for Leanne and everything in-between, in addition to my normal workload of 2 jobs, plus an active music career. I am emotionally and mentally exhausted.
Here we are, now in the latter part of January, and Leanne has just had first very first chemotherapy and naturopathic treatment. She has embarked on a new protocol that is a combination of different drugs from the previous protocol and only happens once per month, as opposed to once per week. Apparently it has different side-effects, but should not result in hair-loss. That said, she still needs to visit the Naturopath at least 2 times a month, ideally 3. As Leanne hasn’t been well enough to work in recent weeks, we are already starting to feel the financial pinch, and at $500 a visit, the naturopathic treatments will be impossible for us to sustain.
We are again appealing to the generosity of our friends and community to help us get through this incredibly difficult phase. We want to give Leanne the best possible chance and treatment options, so it is our explicit desire to continue the Naturopathic complimentary treatments and provide healthy organic meals to her, giving her body the best chance to fight the destructive side-effects of the Chemotherapy. We are both very proud and fiercely independent people, and would only be asking for help in an emergency, and this is just that. That is why we’ve waited until now to make this news public, we wanted to see if it was feasible for us to sustain things on our own. It simply is not.
Thank you to everyone for reading. Please wish for power for Leanne.
We love you.
Hello everyone again. Severine here, ready to share a LONG overdue blog post and likely one of the last ones I’ll be doing (which of course means good things!).
First, my apologies for not keeping this more up-to-date. Mine and Leanne’s lives have settled into a fairly comfortable routine, and because of her great successes with her health, I have been able to more or less completely return to making music, which has consumed all of my free time. Without further ado, I’d love to share the great news on Leanne’s progress.
Leanne had her surgery on October 1st, which was performed by the head of Gynecological Oncology, which, according to her very words, went “perfectly”. They were able to successfully remove all of the tumor bulk in her her abdomen and they noticed while she was on the operating table, that the combined treatment protocol that she had been maintaining, made a huge difference, and, besides the tumors, everything looked good. Leanne’s recovery from surgery was surprisingly speedy, with only a few rough days at the beginning, namely being stuck in the hospital in the days following the operation. In a way, it was nice for her to take a break from chemotherapy, and in the short window that she had before the next round began, we saw some very encouraging signs as the hair on her head, eyebrows and eyelashes began growing back and she started feeling better with each day.
On October 20th, she began her second round of chemo and complementary treatments. There isn’t really much to say about this, with the exception of a couple deferred treatments due to low blood cell counts, which is quite common. It’s basically been “business as usual” and she only has ONE (hopefully the last ever) remaining treatment on January 5th, which is a huge milestone and a major reason for us to celebrate!
Besides the expected “off weeks” where Leanne receives both TAXOL and Carboplatin, that generally leave her feeling lethargic and “icky”, she has been feeling great. We’ve been able to go out to see musical acts, enjoy dinners out, and an almost normal social life together. Her tumor markers have dipped to levels so low, she is technically now living CANCER FREE!!!! Both her Oncologist and Naturopathic Oncologist are incredibly happy with her progress, and naturally, I couldn’t be more proud of her, and am filled with joy and happiness. She is not fully out of the woods yet however, as she'll need to be closely monitored for the next 6 months.
This whole journey has been amazing. It’s been both good and bad, painful and joyous, frustrating and satisfying, and at it’s core, absolutely inspiring. Truly a story of contrasts. It has definitely helped Leanne and I build an even stronger bond and it has helped us both deal with some deep emotional and spiritual wounds.
I’d like to again take the opportunity to thank EVERYONE that has contributed to Leanne’s incredible success. The whole thing has really restored our collective faith in humanity, it’s shown how generous, how emotionally grounded, how supportive, how willing people are to to reach out and give a piece of themselves to help another in need. You are all beautiful. Never take for granted the gifts that we are given. Cherish each day, cherish your friends and family, CHERISH LIFE. I hope that Leanne’s story can give hope to those with little or none. I hope that this message can resonate with everyone going into this brand new year.
From both myself and Leanne, please have a wonderful, safe and very happy 2016.
HUGE love from the Ericksons!!!!
Wow, time really does move fast. It's hard to imagine that we began this journey nearly 4 months ago, and boy what a journey it has been!
I’m really excited to write this blog entry because it’s going to contain A LOT of good news.
I would like to start by thanking the multitudes of people that attended and helped support our local fundraising event here and made it an OVERWHELMING success. We reckon that close to 700 people were in attendance throughout the evening, and we managed to auction off nearly every item in the silent auction. Clearly all of the volunteers of all stripes deserve the most thanks, as without their efforts an event of this level of ambition would not have been even remotely possible.
The following Monday after the event, Leanne received some really amazing news from her CT scan performed on August 28. The results showed that both of her tumors on her ovaries had shrunk substantially, from 12 and 14 cm to around 2 cm each, and the growth in her abdomen was no longer visible. In addition, blood tests have revealed that her tumor markers have also declined significantly. This is literally the best news that we could have hoped to receive, and further confirmation that the integrative treatments, in addition to everything else that we’ve worked so hard towards, is truly paying dividends. The only news we’ve received that wasn’t positive is that her hemoglobin counts have been quite low, which means she is going to need a blood transfusion before the surgery can be performed, but that is a small price to pay considering how positive everything else is.
Leanne met with the surgeon who was to perform her operation, so that he could examine her and discuss the surgery and it’s risks with her. He was very pleased with her progress and suggested a quick turnaround for the procedure. 2 days later, the hospital called and scheduled the operation date for October 1st, which was a couple of weeks sooner than the surgeon had initially proposed, meaning the surgical team was very confident in Leanne’s progress and ability to recover after her first round of chemo concluded. She visited the Naturopathic Oncologist last week, who also was incredibly pleased with Leanne’s progress and could not feel any of Leanne’s pelvic tumors during palpation.
We were dealt a bit of a blow during her previous visit to the clinic the week before in the form of a cease-and-desist sent to all Canadian Naturopathic and Integrative Health clinics by Health Canada, that ordered that they all halt using their WBHT beds, until such time as they’ve been certified by a specific 3rd party. We pray that this was not done in spite or as a means to shut down what we feel is a very important integrative treatment for cancer patients, rather, that it brings the treatment one step closer to being recognized as a legitimate treatment in the eyes of the medical profession.
So, as we enter the final stretch before Leanne’s surgery, we have to remain focused and hopeful, without losing sight of the fact that we aren’t yet out of the woods. After she’s recovered, she is going to have to do another round of chemo to kill any remaining cancer cells. We have set a tentative goal for ourselves, that we’re going to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary (and her victory over cancer) in Mexico of April next year. It’s nice to have something like that to look forward to and motivates us even more to keep fighting.
I’m going to end this entry here, but please keep Leanne in your thoughts for a speedy recovery from her surgery. I will report back next month with more news on that front.
Hello everyone, Severine here again, with another likely long-winded update about Leanne’s journey so far. Before I begin I just wanted to say a quick word about this blog. I’ve been wrestling with how to best approach this, as I have recently returned to work and resumed working on music, which has found me with much less time to dedicate to writing - As someone with only a small modicum of natural writing talent, I find it takes me ages to do so, and I need to allocate my time efficiently so that I can properly care for Leanne and myself. I think that now we have somewhat settled into a routine, I’m going to write these entries once per month, unless there’s some major news or update to share, and I will do my best to do more frequent, much smaller entries to discuss anecdotes and other, more fun things.
I wanted to begin by sharing Leanne’s experience with the Whole Body Hyperthermia Treatment (WBHT) in detail, because the treatment is both fascinating and horrible in equal parts. The entire body beside the head is completely zipped up in a bed with vinyl “walls”. Inside are two 3’ long heat lamps and reflective material on either side of the walls. Leanne had to enter the bed wearing long sleeves and pyjama pants, and both her hands and feet were covered with socks and gloves to ensure no skin is exposed to the intense heat. The treatment has 4 stages and lasts approximately 4 hours. Stage 1 is the “heat up” phase, where they turn on the lamps and begin heating the body up. Stage 2 is called “retention”, where, once the body has reached the desired temperature, they maintain it. In Leanne’s case, this was 40.2 degrees celsius, well beyond the normal fever temp of 38.4. The 3rd stage is the first “cooldown” stage, where they leave the lamps lit, but lessen the temperature, to allow the body to slightly cool itself and ensure that too dramatic of a drop in temperature does not happen. The fourth and final stage is the true cooldown, where they turn off the heat lamps and unzip a couple of the walls and allow fresh air in and extremities to come out.
All of this sounds rather clinical, but let me tell you, watching Leanne going through this treatment was heartbreaking for me. She was clearly in extreme discomfort as she struggled to breathe under the severe heat. Exacerbating the situation was the fact that her Ascites was really bad and putting huge amounts of pressure on her lungs. As the treatment progressed, so did her heart rate, up to a staggering 150 beats per minute. Eventually, as both her heart rate and temperature plateaued, so did her panic levels and near the end of the treatment, she exclaimed that she could no longer take it, and needed to get out. I had to do my best to calm her fears and keep her as cool and hydrated as I could. Fortunately, at the bed they have a bucket filled with cold water and an ice pack in which to dunk wash cloths to put on her forehead and under her neck, in addition to a big container of ice water with a long, flexible straw. Once the treatment concluded, she was completely drenched with sweat and totally exhausted. She had a fairly serious patch of heat rash on one of her legs that persisted for weeks, and has only recently gone away. The following days, Leanne felt okay, but not great, but we definitely attribute that to her advanced Ascites at the time.
Since then, Leanne’s progress has been absolutely wonderful! After several hospital visits she had her Ascites drained, which really has improved her quality of life. Also, we have noticed that it is much less aggressive now, and the rate at which it fills her abdomen has decreased greatly. Leanne has learned to conquer her gag reflex and taking supplements is much less of a challenge and she can now easily take all of them each day. She has been eating like a champ too, and her appetite seems to increase with each day and she’s now eating 3 square meals daily. Her last blood test also revealed very encouraging signs, and both her white, red and platelet cell counts had increased dramatically, which means that all of the diet and supplement additions are truly helping and that her immune system is in fine form!
A few weeks back Leanne and her best friend, Vanessa went and got beautiful, short haircuts, Leanne, to mitigate the hair loss that the TAXOL causes, and Vanessa in a show of love and solidarity. I know she was really nervous about doing so, but the response was so overwhelmingly positive, that those fears quickly dissolved. She got a couple of weeks out of that “do”, but as the hair loss became increasingly aggressive, she decided just last Friday, to go to her hairdresser to have her head shaved, which I think also looks great….Very G.I. Jane-esque, and totally badass!
In preparation for Leanne’s surgery, we have been putting a lot of effort into streamlining our home-life, and have begun a major project to purge our apartment of useless belongings and other miscellanea that was cluttering our already tight living space. We got Leanne a new dresser and closet organizer and went to town on the entire place, and although we aren’t quite done yet, it already feels nice to have everything organized and tidy, and just more efficient. We also, thanks to everyone’s generosity, purchased ourselves a brand new Omega masticating juicer, which we’re going to be picking up tomorrow, so expect some juice pictures very soon!
Lastly, our local fundraising event and silent auction here in Vancouver has officially been posted online, and I will provide links for both the event and online silent auction below.
I wanted to reserve this final paragraph to a special bunch of people that made this seemingly over-ambitious project take flight, and ultimately soar. First Willis Lombard, and Jules Atkinson, deserve special mention for their tireless efforts, and incredible work ethic. They have basically done the brunt of the work, to unburden Leanne and I, and I can’t even begin to express how special these two human beings are, and how incredibly grateful both Leanne and I are to have folks like this in our lives. Matt Troy, for generously donating the venue, Vancouver Arts & Leisure, to hold this event, which was a wonderful surprise. Every single performer, Patrick, Andrea, Ben, Keenan, Max, Vanessa, Emily, Tristan, Olivia, Brett, Brenda, Heather, Michael, Ryan, Jake, Willis, Terence, Jenn, Myles, Josh, Andrew, Chad, Neal, Devon, Dave, James, Kearse, Bobby, Tyler, Kimmy, Josh, Ed, Jay, Jonathan, Jesse!!!!!! All of the volunteers, all of the donors, everyone proving what an incredible, loving, passionate, driven and truly caring community that we are blessed to be a part of. You all make our hearts want to EXPLODE with love! We’re overjoyed and completely filled with positivity and hope, and ready for ANYTHING, thanks to all of you!
I wanted to close by saying that we have decided that any proceeds that Leanne and I have remaining after her treatments have concluded, and recovery has been reached, that we want to use the remainder to support ovarian cancer awareness and more specifically, women suffering from this terrible illness.
Someone wise once said, “Never end with a quote”. How about some links? :)
Fundraising event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1627380754217787
Online auction: http://www.32auctions.com/AllInTogetherNow
Severine or Leanne can I get ur email address so I can etransfer my $40 donation. I dont have a credit card but want to help. :)
Just want to make sure you know about rucaparib, a new chemo still in trials which has been very successful with inherited ovarian cancer.
You guys i have 3 letters for you- CBD !!!!!!!! Please do some research immediately !! I have personally witnessed dozens of people, of all ages, with various types of cancers, who were in advanced stages 3/4 and even terminally ill patients, who have amazingly and very quickly gone into total remission. Truly astonishing results. I would be happy to point u in the right direction. Feel free to msg me. You guys got this either way, sending prayers.
Many people were cure of Cancer with a cheap and powerful way...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-uYXGTKvAU